Today is Blog Action Day. I do hope that many of you have decided to get involved and have written a blog that is in some way related to food.
Of the many food-based topics that I wanted to write about, I eventually hit upon an area that I think many of you would like to talk about further. Here at Compassion in World Farming, we urge people to choose higher welfare meat, whether that be at the supermarket or when you eat out. But the big question on everyone’s minds (and lips), particularly in the current economic environment is: how much will this cost?
My esteemed colleague, Peter Stevenson, wrote a report recently entitled Reviewing the Costs: the economics of moving to higher welfare farming. This is primarily for the farming community, retailers and the government. It is a research paper of sorts, and one that I have found invaluable. Please do take this opportunity to read it, should you be interested in having some more in-depth knowledge on the subject. However, the point remains, what all of us, ‘the consumers’ want to know is: how much will it cost me when I am shopping and is it worth it?
Many of you, like me, will want to feed your family on humane, sustainable, higher welfare food. Is this financially viable?
To cut to the chase: producing a free-range egg costs just a fraction over 2p more than a battery egg. So, switching to free-range eggs should cost 7.5p more per person, per week. While I appreciate that a lot of us are living on extremely tight budgets – the difference that you would be making to a hen by choosing a free-range egg over a battery-cage egg is immense. The financial difference on the other hand, is not vast.
Adding straw and space for pigs costs 5p more per kilo of pork. Therefore, switching to humanely reared pork should cost just 3.3p more per person per week. If you can find it within your budget to make this addition, then you will be helping a pig to live a life free from cruelty.
A final point to touch on, is the environmental cost of producing lower welfare meat and dairy. Now strictly speaking, this isn’t fiscal ‘cost’ as such…but surely we should all be thinking of the expense to our health and to the environment and our planet? Pollution and overuse of water, soil degradation, greenhouse gas emissions, loss of biodiversity and increased levels of disease in humans are all costs. Costs that no amount of money will replace.
Does choosing higher welfare animal produce cost more? Yes, but literally pennies, not pounds. The real question is, can we put a cost on abusing our planet and our own health? Is it worth it?
Give it some thought, and then see if you would be able to dedicate 15 minutes to speaking out for farmed animals online. You are, of course, encouraged also to speak with people personally as well. To help, I want to share with you some ideas for talking points:
• Two out of three farmed animals worldwide are confined in factory farms
• 35 billion chickens are raised indoors for their meat
• 700 million pigs are confined in over-crowded, barren conditions
• Three billion laying hens live in tiny, wire cages
• Millions of ducks and geese are mercilessly force-fed to make foie gras
But there is progress to report and inspiration for you to act on:
• More than 20 million laying hens are set to benefit from the policies of European food companies through our Good Egg Award
• At least 208 million animals are now set to benefit each year from the higher welfare policies of all our Good Farm Animal Award winners
• One in six of the UK local authorities that provide catering commit to using eggs from cage-free hens
• In January 2010, Germany bans barren battery cages, which is two years before the 2012 ban is due to come into effect
• In February 2010, following our supporter-led campaign, Europe rejects Poland’s proposal to delay the 2012 barren battery cage ban
• More than 50 per cent of eggs bought in the UK now come from hens living cage-free lives
Please don’t forget if you have a blog, to register your involvement in Blog Action Day 2011.
And because I want us to bring as much attention as we can to farmed animals and the food we eat, please remember to tag your blog and social media updates with the tag #BAD11. This will mean that your blog and updates will be included on the Blog Action Day website.
Let’s speak out with one voice for farmed animals today! Happy blogging everyone!